Dining Guide: 3 vegan eats that don’t break the bank in Tampa Bay

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This post comes from Deborah Bostock-Kelley. Deborah is a food writer and is going to highlight some great vegan and gluten-free eats for us. I am asked all the time about vegan food, but it isn’t my specialty so I am very excited to have her writing for us.

It’s hard enough to find restaurants when you are following a gluten-free lifestyle, but throw meat, dairy and egg-free into the mix and you would think your eating-out meal options would be limited to salad, salad and, yes, more salad.

For most chain restaurants, that option is sadly true, but surprisingly in Tampa Bay, individually-owned gems are making healthy living – vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – more mainstream, affordable, and available to an appreciative public.

With the help of the Now Find Me Gluten-Free, Happy Cow, and Vanilla Bean Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant-finder apps, my husband and I have been able to navigate this lifestyle to find several delicious options on the weekends through restaurants that can accommodate.

3 vegan eats to start your trip around Tampa Bay

Here are the first three restaurants to dip your toe into the animal-products-free lifestyle:

1. Thai Legacy

Photos via @michaelsalamey

First and foremost, the family-owned Thai Legacy, is hands-down the best Thai Restaurant for vegan options. Open for just two years in February, from the complimentary puffed shrimp toast with chili dipping sauce to an every-visit order of the huge bowl of lemony Tom Yum Soup, (family-sized because we love the leftovers) to the Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles or scratch-made red and green curries ranging from mild to I-can’t-feel-my-face hot, the separate Vegan menu offers nearly 30 different options – appetizers, soups, fried rice, noodles, curries, specialty meals and desserts.

Our favorite, Veggie Pad Thai, is incredibly flavorful stir-fried rice noodles with diced tofu, sweet radish, beansprouts, and crushed peanuts. It’s cooked in a mouth-watering, homemade, vegan Pad Thai sauce. Owner Preeda Saeiab always make you feel welcome and her chef, son Perry makes sure you leave with your belly full and taste buds happy. 120 North Parsons Avenue Brandon, FL 33510. (813) 685-8005.

2. Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a staple to the vegan community on the USF college side of town. Every menu item is affordable as the founder wants healthy vegan food accessible for everyone. We visit for their monthly buffet (usually the first Saturday of the month) featuring soups, salads, summer rolls, spring rolls, pasta dishes, sandwiches, veggie dishes and desserts that are always changing.

The restaurant features appetizers, salads, vegan chick’n wings, shrimpless shrimp and fishless fish, as well salads, burrito wraps, sandwiches with staples like French fries and vegan mozzarella sticks. While my husband gravitates to the sandwiches and wraps, as the soy substitute is not gluten-free, I enjoy the spring rolls and creamy potato kale soup with vegan cream cheese or the delectable Beyond Meat Burger without the bun. The large menu can please even the most finnicky of palettes. 1905 East Fletcher Avenue Tampa, Florida. (813) 977-7888.

3. Rawk Star Café

At Rawk Star Café it may seem odd that a restaurant would not have an oven, but it makes sense when you realize everything you eat there is raw. If you are what you eat, you are super healthy raw vegetables masquerading as burgers, pizza, spaghetti, and chili and you taste incredible.

Peanut, wheat/gluten, and soy-free, Rawk Star Café serves only organic, raw, and living vegan cuisine. From powerhouse smoothies, Mother Kombucha on tap, Bulletproof Coffee, eggless egg salad, collard leaf wraps, and salads to Rawghetti, a Raw Burger, Raw Pizza, a Raw Chili plate, and many types of raw desserts and sweets, there is something to tempt even the strongest meat-atarian.

My absolute favorite, the Raw Chili plate, is loaded with fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and cayenne for heat. It’s served over a bed of thinly chopped zucchini, and then topped with a macadamia nut “sour cream,” fresh tomatoes, and house-blended Prama Sprinkle. Despite normal, non-supersized portions, you do not leave Rawk Star Café still feeling hungry. The high nutrient food leaves you feeling full longer. 4011 Tampa Road Oldsmar, FL. (813) 855-0007

Next time, we’ll visit Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, Ray’s Vegan Soul, and Halelife Bakery.

About Deborah: Deborah Bostock-Kelley is a busy restaurant reviewer, Broadway World theatre critic, playwright, producer, director, actress, children and young adult author, reporter for Groove Magazine, Seedling Magazine UK and Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles Magazine, and owner of The WriteOne Creative Services, a graphic design, web design, and copywriting company. As the philanthropic side of her company, she founded Life Amplified variety showcase in 2013 to give back to her community and was recognized in February 2016 as Bay News 9’s Every Day Hero and in May 2014 as FoxTV’s Hometown Hero. Life Amplified CONNECTIONS Broadway Tunes for Project No Labels is at Stageworks in June 2019 is her 13th showcase. Winning a 2017 Theatre Tampa Bay Jeff Norton Dream Grant, in January 2018 she wrote and produced the 2018 Broadway World award-winning (Best Actor & Best Actress) production, A Necessary Conversation (with Peter Nason) about bullying/gun violence/mental health with a community talkback at the Straz with proceeds going to Moms Demand Action, Tampa Chapter. The show has been expanded and she is directing later in 2019. Her one act plays have been performed in competition at Carrollwood Players, Tarpon Arts and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival. She also runs a blog about her gluten-free and vegan journey.

Carlos Eats

February 20, 2019 |

Senate deadlocks again on measure to fund Zika battle after return from break

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Lawmakers returning to Washington after a seven-week break picked up right where they left off — feuding about legislation to battle the mosquito-borne Zika virus and deadlocked over the defense budget.

  • Lawmakers back in Washington after 7-week break
  • Senate Democrats for the third time blocked a $ 1.1 billion Zika funding package 
  • GOP added measures that bar funds to Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico
  • ZIKA: What you need to know

A tightening presidential race and pitched warfare for control of the Senate this November promise to overshadow whatever Congress accomplishes in an election-shortened September session — which, for now, looks like little more than a temporary government-wide spending bill to prevent a shutdown at month’s end, possibly linked to money to battle Zika.

In its first vote Tuesday, Senate Democrats for the third time blocked a $ 1.1 billion Zika funding package and an accompanying Veterans Administration spending bill over restrictions on Planned Parenthood. They were poised to vote to prevent the Senate from turning to a $ 576 billion Pentagon spending measure.

"It’s hard to explain why — despite their own calls for funding — Senate Democrats decided to block a bill that could help keep pregnant women and babies safer from Zika," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "It’s also hard to explain why — despite the array of terror attacks we’ve seen across the world — Senate Democrats decided to block a bill that could help keep the American people safer from threats."

Added measures in bill a sticking point

Democrats oppose the Zika measure as it bars Planned Parenthood clinics in Zika-suffering Puerto Rico from receiving new money to treat the disease and curb its spread. The legislation also would ease, over the objections of environmentalists, permitting requirements for pesticide spraying to kill the mosquitoes that can spread the virus.

Republicans added those provisions to the measure in June, along with spending cuts to help pay for the Zika bill, saying they are reasonable priorities that reflect their control of the House and Senate.

The Zika threat hasn’t gripped the public as Ebola did two years ago, but pressure is building as dozens of mosquito-transmitted Zika cases have been confirmed in the political battleground state of Florida since lawmakers left Washington in July.

The defense bill, meanwhile, is caught in a furious battle sparked by a Republican move to use emergency war funds to try to artificially increase the basic Pentagon budget by $ 16 billion next year. The Obama administration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are dead set against the idea, which breaks with a hard-won budget deal that’s less than a year old; they say that if Republicans want more money for defense, domestic programs will have to receive an equal boost.

The defense battle won’t be resolved until after Election Day, but Tuesday’s vote on Zika should send the warring parties back to the drawing board, and it appears likely that the provision targeting Planned Parenthood — and perhaps the underlying $ 95 million worth of social services grants — will have to be dropped from the measure.

"We’re going to work through these issues and I’m sure we’ll have a successful outcome to make sure just that the trains are running on time," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told hometown radio host Stan Milam of AM 1380 in Janesville on Tuesday.

On the Zika virus, which has spread over the summer and is linked to birth defects, Ryan said, "I do believe we’ll find some kind of resolution."

For his part, Ryan has to navigate some tricky waters on the underlying stopgap spending bill, known in Washington-speak as a continuing resolution. Some conservatives want to block any post-election session and are pressing for a continuing resolution that keeps the government open until March or so. But President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are dead set against the idea — they want a full-year spending agreement completed this year — and Ryan said he wants to keep negotiating on the full-year spending bills through the fall.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, on Tuesday said that an extension of current spending "should be in my view be passed as soon as possible, it should go to sometime in December" and budget work should be finished by the end of the year.

As the inauguration of the next president looms in January, a multi-year restoration of the iconic Capitol Dome is nearing completion, and the Rotunda reopened for visitors on Tuesday, free of scaffolding and safety netting that prevented visitors from a full view of its artwork.

Politically, Republicans are pressing for additional investigations of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over her emails. House conservatives are determined to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, saying he stonewalled and impeded congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative organizations. Koskinen wasn’t commissioner at the time.

Bay News 9 – news

September 7, 2016 |

FHP: Holiday, spring break a dangerous combo on the roads

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The Easter weekend was a deadly one across Central Florida roads. 

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say the holiday weekend mixed with spring break travelers usually makes March one of the deadliest months for the area.

Claudia Rushlow’s family and friends, from Michigan, are making their way through Central Florida on spring break.  Rushlow says she’s noticed a disturbing trend on the roads.

“A lot of texting and driving, a lot of distracted driving,” said Rushlow.

FHP troopers say distracted driving – and sometimes drunk driving – mixed with all the spring break travelers, can make for a deadly combination.

On Saturday in Seminole County, six people were thrown out of a van as it tumbled across I-4 near the Longwood rest area.  Investigators say a person killed in that crash, and two others killed in a crash in Sanford Sunday night had one thing in common – none of the victims were wearing seatbelts.

Troopers say you can’t control what other drivers are doing out on the road.  But they say if you at least buckle up, you can give yourself a chance to survive a crash if you get into one.

“Be in the mindset when you get in that car that you can see anyone coming towards you. Wear your seatbelt, be paying attention, we always tell people to put down the phone. And if you can – just try to avoid the crash,” said Sgt. Kim Montes with FHP.

Rushlow says she does everything she can to prevent spring break from taking a tragic turn for the worse.

Troopers say alcohol is also to blame for the rise they usually see in fatal crashes. Montes says they find some drunk drivers are well over the legal limit during this time of year.

Bay News 9 – local-news

March 28, 2016 |
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